Negative reviews happen - there, we said it! But they're really not the end of the World, promise. In fact, often the most important thing is not the negative review itself, but the way in which a company deals with that review. Today, we're going to show you how to handle negative reviews the professional way. Get it right, and you might even be able to turn that positive into a negative!
Negative Reviews Don't Have To Be Negative
Recently received a negative review and feel like the walls are caving in?
Mistakes are a part of life. In fact, they're a part of being human! We all slip up from time to time and people can be more understanding towards negative reviews than you think - especially if you handle them correctly. There are actually a surprising amount of benefits of negative reviews too. They can do numerous things including improving your brand trust, customer service and even customer satisfaction in the future, so try not to see them as the enemy.
Stop the stress and try to remember:
1: Negative reviews do not define you!
2: What's written in the reviews isn't what matters - your response is what does.
How To Handle Negative Reviews In 7 Simple Steps
1. Take a minute
Whilst it may seem easy for us to say 'it's just a negative review', we really do get it. We work our fingers to the bone building up our businesses and when someone leaves negative feedback, it can often feel like a personal insult. Whether you’re new to this game or a well-seasoned veteran, negative reviews can have a surprisingly powerful effect on your state of mind.
That's why it's so important to always, always take a moment to breathe before you do anything. We've all been there in the past when someone has said something out of turn to us and we've had to bite our tongue or calm down before we respond. Well, negative reviews should be treated in exactly the same way.
Whatever's been said in the review, don't respond on impulse. Take a minute, breathe, and come back with a clear head.
2. Put yourself in their shoes
Although there are some exceptions, negative reviews are rarely left without good reason and some are actually meant in good-jest. 44% of women and 32% of men say when they leave a negative review, it's to help the company improve a product/service/policy - they're really not the enemy! When handling feedback, it's essential to see the problem from your customer's point of view so you can respond and resolve appropriately.
Don't just see their anger or frustration - read into the language used and try and identify where things went wrong.
This process will help you really understand the problem and be more empathetic, so that when it does come to responding, you do so in the most professional and personable way possible.
3. Do some research
Once you've fully identified the problem the customer had, it's time to get researching. If it was a problem with customer service, you may want to pull up any relevant correspondence. If it was a customer journey issue, try and replicate it yourself to identify the exact bump in the road. If it was a delivery issue, contact your courier for an explanation.
Everything you gather will not only help you respond to negative reviews in a really comprehensive way but also provide the unhappy customer with a solution - turning that negative into a positive.
4. Forming your reply
On the back of your research, you should now have everything you need to respond to your negative review in a really proactive and personal way. This stage is key - 61% of people say that just getting a response to their complaint is reward enough.
It's absolutely essential to respond both professionally and apologetically. The wrong response could cause even more anger and frustration - continuing the cycle of negativity - whilst the right could completely turn things around for the unsatisfied customer and even your reputation. Remember that each of your customers, satisfied or not, is a person. Each problem is unique and deserves some time and attention. For this reason, we strongly discourage the use of automated review responses.
For negative reviews, it's worth considering replying privately. This facilitates more conversation, and will also enable disgruntled customers to blow off some steam - if necessary - without the whole World being witness.
5. Publicise the review & response
Publicising negative reviews is scary, granted, but it is essential if you want to be completely transparent with your customers. Reviews - both of the positive and negative kind - can build enormous amounts of trust, but only if you allow them to.
If you've already contacted the customer privately and the problem has been resolved, you can now go ahead and publish a streamlined response. Include the main points raised, apologise, be personal, thank them for their feedback, and apologise again.
The goal here is to showcase that you've not only acknowledged but really understood the customer's problem and done all you can to resolve it.
6. Ask them to modify their review
Depending on how the exchange went with the customer in question, you may be able to encourage them to modify their negative review and turn it, quite literally, into a positive.
This is not something we'd recommend doing religiously - it should definitely be on a case-by-case basis and always dont privately.
If the conversation went well and the customer was pleased with your response and solution, they may be more than happy to update their review, or, if nothing else, edit it to include the customer service they received in resolving their issue.
7. Document, feedback & improve
We strongly believe that one of the main benefits of reviews is how much they can help businesses to improve. Feedback is essential to continuous improvements and bringing your customers the best you can possibly offer.
The last step in handling negative reviews successfully is to take what you've learnt, document it, relay it to the necessary teams, and make sure change is implemented. Recording each and every one of your negative reviews will help you to recognise patterns and identify key areas of improvement. There's no point putting in all that work resolving negative reviews to not learn from them. Take something from every review and make sure mistakes aren't repeated.
Feeding back reviews to the higher powers is essential, as this is what will facilitate change. Web developers may have no idea about a user experience problem that causes negative reviews unless you tell them. The key here is communication.
When the problem has been relayed, your last job is to ensure change - where necessary - is implemented to prevent reoccurring issues.
Negative reviews are part and parcel of doing business both online and offline. Even the world’s best-run businesses will do something wrong at some point, which may lead to a customer leaving an unhappy review.
Negative reviews are not the end of the World and should not be shied away from. Savvy consumers rarely trust a business that has hundreds of straight 5-star reviews - 68% of consumers actually trust reviews more when they see both positive and negative reviews!
Handled well, they can actually be your friend, helping you to learn more about your current customers and business offerings and do better in the future. Here's to turning positives into negatives - after all flowers can't grow without the rain!